“Abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym”
Do you eat anything you find on the plate when you return from the gym? If this has been your approach, it’s highly likely that you will never be able to achieve the fitness goals that you desire to achieve. Pre-workout meals provide you with energy for an intense workout. But when you return from the gym, it is the post-workout meal that promotes recovery and helps in muscle gain.
To understand this, you first need to understand what actually happens to your body when you workout. When you are at the gym, you subject your various muscles to a certain amount of tension while lifting weights or doing other kinds of exercise. When the muscles are subjected to tension, the muscle tissues break and the process is followed by the building of new, bigger and stronger muscles. This is how your muscle mass increases. This is the point where post-workout comes into play. Post Workout meals promote faster muscle recovery and help you in gaining muscle mass.
Now, as we have understood the importance of post-workout meals, let’s look at the essential nutrients we need to have in post-workout meals.
Carbs, Proteins and Fat are the three essential nutrients that you must have in your post-workout meals. They help you in gaining muscles and shedding fat.
Best Timing for Post-workout meals
In fitness, timing is everything. In technical terms, it is referred to as “anabolic window of opportunity”. Your muscles require both food and water after an intense workout session. The blood flow is increased an hour after the workout session and hence it is the best time for recovery as it is easy to deliver nutrients efficiently during that period. Therefore, it is best to take your post-workout meals within an hour after the workout.
There are several food items that you can eat for post-workout meals
- Whole Eggs: Eggs have been used for muscle gains for a very long period. A whole egg contains at least 6 grams of protein and consuming 4-5 whole eggs after a workout session will give you 25-30 grams of protein. Eggs are proved to have been highly beneficial in promoting protein synthesis. The egg yolk contains phosphorus, several minerals, healthy fats and iron. This helps the broken muscle tissues in recovering at a faster pace. If you are on cutting and want to lose weight then you can avoid eating the yolk.
- Cottage Cheese: Cottage cheese has rich amounts of protein and they are a proven post-workout meal option with high nutritional values. Cottage cheese has more protein gram for gram in comparison to greek yoghurt and they are really helpful in building new muscles and recovering the broken muscle tissues. It is easy to find and easy to have post-workout options. You can top a bowl of cottage cheese with strawberries or other fresh fruits to make it even healthier.
- Sweet Potato: Sweet Potato is a very underrated post-workout meal, and it is really helpful for gains. Sweet Potatoes have rich amounts of carbs and carbs are very helpful in building new muscles. They also help in boosting the immune system and also a healthier alternative to potatoes. While sweet potatoes help build new muscles, they don’t lead to unhealthy gains. The unused carbs are stored as fat and provide energy for the workout the next day.
- Whole Grain Bread: Bread is a really helpful meal for fitness enthusiasts and can be used in both pre-workout as well as post-workout meals. They have rich amounts of carbs that fuel your muscles and also power the brain. Whole bread is also helpful in replenishing the muscles. You can make a simple sandwich or stuff it with peanut butter and banana slices to make it healthier.
- Avocado: You should make avocados your best friend if you want to get your desired physique. Avocados are helpful in early recovery and they not only help in satisfying your hunger but also have healthy fats that help in healthy gains. You can consume avocados alone or with chickpeas to boost the protein share of the meal.
- Protein Shakes: For a majority of fitness enthusiasts, it is very difficult to maintain the nutrient requirements on your plate given the busy work schedule we have. In such cases, supplements are the best option to meet the protein requirements of your body. A scoop of protein shake generally has 24-25 grams of protein. You can increase the quantity of protein by adding banana, almond and peanut butter to the shakes.